Robert Hugh Mackay was born on 1st October 1878 in Achtoty, Skerray, son of William Mackay and Alexanderina Mackay. They were married in Tongue in 1858.He was married to Fairlie Mackay from Achtoty, Skerray,
Sutherlandshire. Prior to the outbreak of war he was employed in the herring
fishing industry and was also a member of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.
In August 1914 the Naval Reserve was called
up for duty and Robert was sent south for training at the Naval depots. Once he
had completed his training he was sent to serve on the armed trawler Waltham;
the fishing trawlers were requisition by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war
and tasked to clear minefields or escort inshore convoys.
On the night of the 4 December 1915, His Majesty’s Trawler Waltham was caught in a storm off the town
of Larne in Ayrshire whilst escorting a convoy. Seaman Robert Mackay was washed
overboard during the storm and drowned, his body was washed ashore on the beach
the following day. His body was returned
home to his wife for burial. Soldiers and sailors killed on duty in the United
Kingdom were nearly always returned home for burial.
In early 1916 Robert Hugh Mackay was buried
at Torrisdale burial ground Skerray, his funeral was attended by two of his
nephews, Alexander and Murdo Mackay from High Bonnybridge Stirlingshire. His
nephew James Mackay had already been killed in Gallipoli serving with the Royal
Scots; another nephew William Mackay from Glasgow enlisted in the Army in
Tongue. (The story of Alexander, Murdo James and William Mackay appear
elsewhere on this site).
Mrs Fairlie Mackay lost her husband and four
nephews during the First World War, two of her nephews appear on Skerray War
Memorial beside the name of her husband. I have been unable to discover why the
names of James and William have been omitted from the stone; the two nephews
named on the memorial also appear on the Tongue Church Roll of Honour beside
the name of their Uncle.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL
Mackay Robert Hugh. 2568.
Leading Seaman. R.N.R H.M. Trawler
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES
Mackay Leading Seaman R. H.
2568/C (PO). R.N. H.M. Trawler Waltham. 4 December 1915.
Robert Hugh Mackay 2568 Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve is buried in a war grave
at TORRISDALE BURIAL GROUND SKERRAY.